Under their noses?

National news outlets are now taking notice of 76-year-old Augustan Betty Neumar, and for good reason. Her suspicious knack for marrying men who later die violently or mysteriously is right out of a murder mystery novel.


Likewise, investigators are taking notice, belatedly, of the fact that all five of her husbands have died over the years.

We need not be reminded of her right to be presumed innocent in a court of law. And if something nefarious did indeed befall her five dead husbands, it may be next to impossible to prove that she or anyone else was responsible.

But as each death is investigated, as patterns start emerging, we're learning that authorities in North Carolina apparently weren't as observant or responsive to victims' relatives as they ought to be.

As Richmond County authorities investigate the death of her most recent husband, John E. Neumar, 79, last fall in an Augusta hospital -- thinking he may have been poisoned, after learning the fate of her previous four husbands -- word comes that detectives in North Carolina seemed unimpressed with relatives' concerns about the death of husband Harold Gentry in July 1986. He and husband No. 3, Richard "Dick" Sills, were found dead of gunshot wounds, the latter back in 1965.

Police in Norwood, N.C., believe Neumar solicited several hit men to kill Mr. Gentry in 1986, and that one of the would-be assassins may have tipped off authorities before Gentry's death to no avail.

Authorities also say all the men had military backgrounds.

Relatives of Mr. Gentry also spent two decades trying to get authorities to see what they saw and to reopen the case.

They finally did -- too late for Mr. Neumar.

Again, murders can sometimes go undetected, even in the best cases. Augustans saw that first-hand when the murder here of Dorothy "Dolly" Hearn in 1990 went unsolved until her killer, former boyfriend and dentist Barton Corbin, was accused of a similar shooting of his wife Jennifer in their Buford, Ga., home in 2004. He later pleaded guilty to both killings.

Still, the Betty Neumar case should act as a wakeup call to grizzled and maybe cynical seen-it-all law enforcement types everywhere: You haven't seen it all. Don't act like it.

Look. Listen. Ponder.

Especially where dead bodies are concerned.



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